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Despite Risks, Pain Relievers Given OK

FDA Panel Says Vioxx Can Come Back, Celebrex, Bextra Should Stay

Weighing the Good and the Bad

Cox-2 drugs are favored by many doctors because they may be less likely to cause stomach ulcers and bleeding than older anti-inflammatory drugs.

Experts ultimately struggled with a puzzle: Is the potential benefit of fewer stomach problems worth the small but probable increased risk of heart attacks? And which patients are at the highest risk for the drugs' potentially negative effects?

Steven Nissen, MD, medical director at The Cleveland Clinic, said that decisions on whether or not to take Bextra, Celebrex, or other drugs remain "filled with shades of gray."

Wood says, "These issues are really difficult. We all wished we had more data that would inform us better." He adds that patients taking any anti-inflammatory drug should meet with their doctors to see if they are at higher risk for adverse reactions.

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